BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The nonprofit CASA is urging Kern County residents to volunteer with them, saying neglected children are in need of their resources more than ever right now. With COVID-19 keeping everyone at home, CASA says it’s harder to keep an eye on children who come from unhealthy home environments. That’s where volunteers are going to come in.
CASA community outreach coordinator Gladiz Gonzalez says without kids leaving home to attend school or other activities, it’s much harder to learn about, and report, child abuse.
“We're anticipating that once restrictions are lifted and kids are going back to school and our mandated reporters actually have eyes on these kids, we’re expecting, unfortunately, an increase in cases," said Gonzalez.
CASA is a nonprofit that helps those children as they enter the Juvenile Dependency Court System. Gonzalez says more CASA volunteers means less children waiting to be paired with a mentor who can give them guidance and support.
“They’re gonna make such a positive impact in these young lives. You’re going to be the one consistent adult that does not leave them throughout the process," she said.
On Wednesday, CASA is hosting a virtual volunteer orientation. Volunteers do need to be at least 21-years-old and must pass a background check. Otherwise, all are welcome to participate.
“We just want them to have the heart and the will to help these children and make a difference," said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez says there is a significant number of boys in the foster care system, so male volunteers are especially appreciated.
“They really need that role model in their lives and kind of guide them and be that man in their lives that, you know, sometimes they don’t have anymore," she said
To attend the volunteer orientation, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the virtual link. If you can’t make it on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., they will have several more throughout the month. You can visit their Facebook page for more updates.